Tickling ivories

“Back up you creep. Get away from me. I know you love to intimidate women. But you can’t intimidate me. Back. Up!”  I love that line. Wish she had said it during that debate. More on this in a minute.

August flew by, didn’t it? It is my birthday month (yay) and I would always stretch out every minute to enjoy it, but these days August brings the dog days of heat and humidity.

Back when I first moved to Los Angeles, it was dry and there were cold winters, hot arid summers, with a bit of rain in winter and spring and very warm but breezy autumns. That is changing fast. It is warmish all year long, rarely dipping below 50F. Sigh.

Still, the cusp of September brings memories of crisp, cold, sunny New York City days, when I was growing up. And the thought of the icy, bright beauty of Ithaca, where I went to school. New outfits — lots of them tailored wool. Snug thigh-high boots shuffling through a crackly carpet of muted red, gold and violet maple leaves on bumpy Upstate sidewalks. I miss the Northeast most in Fall.

Would it surprise you to know that I am somewhat heartened by the obvious developments of the current political scene? The man has lost his mind and is now so disinhibited, his true ugly inner self has emerged in all its pathology. He was in Arizona last night, which always brings out the worst in him (and worst for him is pretty damn bad). There, he made sure he praised a racist criminal, convicted felon and trashed a war hero with brain cancer. We, the sane here, just keep shaking our heads, but anticipate his marginalization imminently. Small comfort, but at least the pain is over. Mrs. Clinton, a virtual hug of support goes out to you, once again.

But, I am rambling.  What have we here? My latest Flickr series.

I finally ventured into monochrome photography. It’s a subject so vast and well covered elsewhere by serious photographers that I don’t feel the need to amplify it further. I am always looking for the next creative experiment and this was the one for August. Something completely different coming up in September.

We are heading down to our house in SD next week and will be there for at least two weeks. It means hauling more furniture, which is always tedious but beats buying new stuff. Our current house in Los Angeles is half the size of the previous one, so we have had furniture packed to the rafters in the garage. Might as well use it. Geoffrey has been busy refinishing some of it and he is so good at this, it looks brand new. Good to have a handy husband!  Well, it’s his hobby anyway. We should always face in the direction the horse is traveling.

The ‘ivories’ reference points to my preference for warm whites in black and white photographs. I tried in each one of these to process the final jpeg with varying shades from eggshell to egg cream. See what you think. I also concentrated on human subjects — something that always makes me nervous, but, for this set I used long lenses and cropped the interim TIFs close.

Some I really liked. Some I felt were so-so.

The full set of 30 shots is on Flickr right now.  What I find intriguing is that pictures I thought were mediocre sometimes garner the most attention and others that I found astonishingly good considering I am not a photographer, people yawn at. Ah well. I have no ego in this!

In fact, the Romanovs occupying the WH right now have sucked all the ego out of America for the moment. So feel free to react to them however you like. I promise you I will not be offended.

Hugs, everyone. I hope to be around to see you all, while we pack up the cargo van.

Images: Chez Bebe assets/Southern California

 

Soft spots

I recently took an online class with Geo Rittenmyer on photography for stock sales.

His portfolio was impressive but even more intriguing were the tips he gave us about taking photographs that might be sold for thousands of dollars.

It is not what you would think.

The trend is not to use expensive cameras and lenses and studio equipment, and years of experience.

Instead he reported that the agencies who purchase stock photos are snapping up cell phone or film and toy camera shots with lots of grain.

There are two key elements: bring the viewer into the shot.

And keep it fresh.

That’s it. Those agencies are looking for new and emotional images of every kind.

At the same time I took that class, I decided my next series would be experimenting with soft glowing details and avoiding saturation.

Even though California has bright light all year long, and many areas reflect that by decorating exteriors in bright colors (especially Downtown San Diego where primary red, blue and yellow are evident everywhere in modern architecture) I was determined to make a whole series of subdued photos.

Then, the third element appeared. Topaz has a new suite called Studio that provides an array of precision tools for post-processing.

Et Voilà! These shots were among the results.

They are a mix of pictures. Some new, some old and reprocessed, some with my cell phone camera, some with the D800 and D610.

I don’t plan to be a Stock photographer (I am not in that league yet), but Rittenmyer convinced us that even a newbie can produce a shot that brings in years of residuals. Hmmm …

Stay tuned!

 

georittenmyer.com/portfolio/

Images: Chez BeBe assets/NoCal and SoCal

East of eatin’

Summer is finally upon us and it roared into Santa Clarita with a vengeance. It has been hovering around 100F for over a week. This is the time I begin dreaming of snow and even the Hallmark Channel’s Christmas in July seems like a high point, LOL!

We’ve been back and forth to San Diego. I was supposed to go on the family pilgrimage to Plum Island next week but I am just too busy.

The Houstapo (our local HOA) has been making the rounds dreaming up expensive improvements to all our properties, so Geoffrey and I have planned to stay put until the middle of August, working on the house and yard.

But, I did spend the latter part of May and the first half of June down south, so I have lots of pictures. Some of them are in this post.

Might as well explain them right now. This is another of the five quarters, called East Village, which is just, well, east of the Gaslamp quarter with all its restaurants and shops.

East Village is undergoing a building renaissance with new lofts springing up in glass-clad towers and old warehouses being refurbished as office buildings, eateries and clubs. It is also home to the Petco Stadium that hosts the Padres baseball team. San Diegans are fiercely proud of the Padres and you can see it all over East Village.

We stumbled on this part of Downtown when we were seeking out SD’s best bagelry, which turns out to be Brooklyn Bagel & Bialy. We suddenly realized it was the ideal place to buy an investment property so we have been back scouring each street.

There is also a stunning library there.  And a homeless Veteran population that has no where else to go and seems to be tolerated, if not welcomed.

Nonetheless, the quarter seems quietly industrious and clean. I can see an Air BnB making a steady income in the last affordable part of a major coastal city.

Since downtown San Diego is right on the ocean, you can feel and smell the sea from East Village, like no other part of Downtown. That is a nice perk and added incentive to invest there.

Not much else to report. Just waiting for the three years and six months to be up until we can hopefully go back to having civilization in this country. It has gradually sunk in that being civilized, like being adult, is harder than being barbarian and juvenile. Lately life just seems to rotate around the calendar with complete regularity. Just when I have gotten used to cool weather, the summer slams into us. The older I get, the more my life just seems like one big wheel, whirling faster and faster.

I guess America needed an infantile regression because the pain of facing adult, advanced responsibilities has finally caught up with the 35% of the voting population that made this choice — at the behest of the billionaire rulers — in a futile dream that somehow those billionaires would make life easy and safe for them again.

It would be tempting to fill this blog with inspirational fantasies of positivity or to simply indulge in weekly rants about selfishness and stupidity. But, I am just not into either. So, I will share my trivia and my photos until something changes. Until I see clear signs that the major blunder of last November is about to be corrected.

There are lots of things to be grateful for, and I am. Not the least of which is you, my WP community. Much love to you all.

Images: Chez BeBe assets: East Village, Downtown San Diego

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/wheel/

Sandy ego

I’m back! My only excuse is I have been busy (like all of you!). Down to San Diego, up to Valencia and all the chores involved with both houses, as well as the new car, is stretching every minute four or five times.

But here I am with the latest updates.  I have to admit the craziness in the world outside our doors has me a bit on edge, but that’s because I am high strung. It is just a new excuse to be nervous. 😀

As I may have mentioned before, there are two new projects in the works.

One is buying an investment property in Downtown San Diego (which we have fallen in love with) and the other is a new company that I have been putting together for the past year.

We are making slow but steady progress on both, but it has meant stealing time from other things, like blogging and finishing two knitting projects that are ready to be assembled.

Not my photography, however. I take the D610 with the 16-85 mm lens wherever I go and so new series and sets are always in the works.

I will be heading down to San Diego again next week and continuing to chronicle my exploration of the city and the greater metro area (which are both complex and vast) as well as experimenting with new ways of taking pictures for different purposes.

You saw one, my last post (I blink …) and I will be talking about another new technique next post.

Meanwhile, here are pictures of the Gaslamp Quarter of Downtown. There are five “Quarters” (clearly they don’t mean fourths but areas).

The Gaslamp is the oldest part of the city and the most bustling and active. It is filled with bars, restaurants, mom & pop shops, dance spots, theaters and a vibrant street life. It is a maze of fun and energy.

I hope you can get a sense of that from these shots, which are just a fraction of the ones I took on several days wandering around looking at investment condos.

San Diego is experiencing the kind of explosive growth that Los Angeles went through about 20 years ago.

No one can buy property in DTLA for less than $2mm these days, even for a dinky apartment.

Those prices are approaching NYC’s, which are now astronomical.

But DTSD is still affordable. You can get a 1500 sq ft loft for under one million dollars.

Next time I get a chance, I will show you pictures I took of the most affordable part of the city, close to the water in what is called the East Village Quarter.

It looks nothing like the East Village in Manhattan, but it has real sea breezes so you feel as if you are at the beach all the time. And people are pretty proud of its edgy urban hipster environment.

If you have any spare money at all and live in SoCal, DTSD is the place in which to invest, imho.

More on all this in my next post. ❤

(Meanwhile, I am eyeing Phase One Cameras. You can get them refurbished. Imagine shooting with 100 megapixels?)

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/maze/

Images: Chez BeBe assets: The Gaslamp Quarter of Downtown San Diego, California

 

I blink therefore I am

Well, I’ve blown my posting schedule so I will stop making promises about regular posts.

One reason is all this running back and forth to San Diego. It has been fun, but exhausting.   I also just got a shiny new car and have had fun getting it all tricked out.  Got some tasteful license plate frames that sparkle subtly and a custom license plate with my name, Bethany, on it.

After I bought the custom plate, Geoffrey reminded me that I had better watch what I say on NextDoor as I will be highly visible in our neighborhood now, LOL! Oops.

Back to this post. I recently attended an Art Wolfe seminar. Wolfe is a pioneering photographer, known world-wide, as well as artist and author (over 100 books). He has been everywhere that any of us could imagine wanting to take photographs or sketch or paint.  In fact, he was among the first photographers to climb Mt. Everest some 45 years ago. But Wolfe is both a pioneer, a master and an iconoclast.

His instruction in this particular day-long seminar was about finding extraordinary art in ordinary, everyday places and subjects.  He tells his students that there is little excitement in taking the 2000th shot of the Tetons or Iguassu falls, penguins on ice in Antartica or a monastery jutting out from a cliff in the Himalayas. Lots of people have been there and done that.

Instead, he looks for beautiful possibilities in plain or even ugly places and objects.  Up for a challenge, I took 100 pictures all around Valencia and sought out the ugliest things I could find. The results were really encouraging. This post features just a handful of my processed pictures.

As always, I used my four digital cameras (mostly the Nikons, D800 and D610, with their best lenses) and shot in RAW, then turned the best 75 of those shots into TIFs in Lightroom; then took the TIFs into Photoshop to make any further adjustments (like cropping in tight, while maintaining the original ratio so size and information were not compromised, or straightening them or removing excess noise or distracting artifacts, etc.). Often that was all they needed, but I also ran some of them through the various programs in Topaz (I have them all, the latest versions of Textures and Glow, being my favorites). I selected the best 50 or so and turned them into the final, lossy JPEGs.

The originals would really make you laugh and can be seen on my Flickr photostream.

Now when I am out with my cameras (and I always have at least one with me, or use my phone when desperate), I purposely seek out subjects with exceptional characteristics Wolfe listed in his neat little summary: line, color, texture, or all three. He takes people on photographic safaris all over the world, all year long, so I plan to sign up for one when I can snag a block of time. Pretty exciting.

The meaning of the title of this post is conciously conceiving of your eye as a camera, or deliberately making your camera do what your eyes and mind do automatically. When we look at something, we immediately process it in our mental machinery and the result is usually added values. If we can train ourselves to use our eyes and camera together as one artistic assembly, we can produce limitless, original works.

Wolfe frames and sells many of his to museums, offices, homes, and public spaces. When you see them framed, you realize the genius of his eye and mind. I hope to train myself along those lines.  All of these pictures in RAW were over 40 feet wide in their original format.

Another reason I have been so busy and therefore absent for longer stretches here, is that we have decided to buy a condo in Downtown San Diego. My next post will be about that. I cannot tell you how thrilled I am at the prospects there.

My in-laws have planned a family trip to a resort scheduled for two weeks this summer and then my family is making their annual pilgrimage to Plum Island in July, so I have a lot of decisions to make, upcoming. I am now just keeping a set of suitcases in the foyer. With all this traveling, no point in putting them away.

We plan to head to the beach in Ventura on Saturday. It is supposed to rain, but that just makes the prospect of dark waves and lots of wind-whipped seafoam all the more attractive to my Yankee heart.  If we do go, I will be bringing the cameras, natch.

Miss you all and love you! Stay tuned.

Images: Chez BeBe assets: Art of the Real originals

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/outlier/